Ashley Williams Reveals Miscarriage: ‘I’m a Survivor … Healed, I Will Try Again’

09/16/2016 at 12:10 PM ET

Ashley Williams Miscarriage Essay
Ashley Williams/Instagram

Ashley Williams is opening up about her recent miscarriage.

In a brave essay for Human Development ProjectThe Jim Gaffigan Show actress shares how she discovered she miscarried during an outing at Whole Foods with her son Gus, 23 months, as well as the time that followed and what it made her realize about herself and others who have suffered the same experience but felt they couldn’t talk about it.

“My (still bloated) gut feeling is that something even more painful silences us  — the fear that we, as women, are failures,” writes Williams, 37, who miscarried eight weeks into her second pregnancy. “Procreation, the driving purpose in our constructed notion of womanhood, is broken by this sudden trauma.

“You are not broken. You did nothing wrong,” Williams continues, addressing other women who have miscarried. “You are strong, you are brave, and there is hope.”

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In her essay, the former How I Met Your Mother star — who played one of Ted Mosby’s more serious love interests, Victoria, on the show — explains that she was surprised in finding out in the days following that most of her friends had miscarried at least once.

“Medical confirmations of the lost pregnancy from OBs, chiropractors, and my acupuncturist use jargon that feeds more self-sabotaging thoughts that I am deficient,” the actress and PEOPLE blogger admits about what she felt following her own miscarriage.

She adds of the words she heard over and over again, “Abnormality … Defect … Incapable … Incomplete … Not viable.

But Williams, who spoke to PEOPLE recently about expanding her family, is using her own words to encourage other women to join her in speaking out about miscarriage — which her midwife told her happens to one in four pregnancies among women her age.

“I stand here in front of you, [needing] to normalize my miscarriage. And I’d love to hear about yours,” the actress and certified doula tells her readers. “I believe it will allow me  —  and us  —  to gather hope and strength. As we talk, let’s add some of these words into our lexicon: Survivor … Strong … Abundant … Mother … Hope.

Related Video: Did You Know Actress Ashley Williams Is a Certified Doula?!

Williams suggests that other women not be afraid to ask for help in their time of need, in whatever ways they feel they need it, emphasizing that no favor is too small and that no shame needs to be associated with talking about their losses.

“Maybe tell your Starbucks barista that you need an extra shot because you just had a miscarriage. Tell someone to carry your bags for you, not because you’re weak, but because you recently had a miscarriage and you deserve a break,” she writes. “Tell the bartender to make it a double because you haven’t wanted to drink alcohol for months and now you’re allowed to.”

She continues, ” ‘Why?’ your bartender will say. ‘Because I’m not pregnant anymore,’ you’ll say. ‘And I want to talk about it.’

“I invite you to start, with me, a vocal army of the 25 percenters who can normalize miscarriage in the social sphere,” Williams addresses her readers again directly. “I was right there next to you at Whole Foods, bleeding out of my shorts. Now I’m well. I’m a survivor. Healed, I will try again.”

Read Williams’ full essay, I Need to Talk About My Miscarriage, here.

Jen Juneau

FILED UNDER: Ashley Williams , News

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Showing 27 comments

Danielle on

I dunno as a former barista, it seems a bit odd to tell people that after they have a miscarriage to tell the barista that you need extra shots because you’ve miscarried or you haven’t had a drink in a while because you were pregnant but now you’re not.

Barista’s are not counsellors, a lot of them are teenagers and young adults who are not expecting such comments and likely won’t know how to respond. It’s not about a stigma or being ashamed of having a miscarriage, but rather to recognize that the Barista’s are humans too. I’ve told them I’ve had a rough week before and they’ll give an extra shot or give me my drink for free to make me smile.

cj on

If you need to talk about your miscarriage then talk about it, but isn’t that what family and friends are for, not total strangers? I find it odd and more than TMI of a total stranger to say something like to someone who is doing their job and serving you; what if they have just found out they are infertile, diagnosed with cancer, a parent died recently, or just having a crappy day too? Why is your stuff more important than what may be going on with them? Why project your feelings onto strangers? I’m not criticizing really, I’m just being a realist. We all should be kind to strangers and treat each other with respect but no-one knows what might be going on with someone else. I don’t think it’s everyones business to know it either or to make me feel better. I find it too self-centered and if someone said that to me I would say “sorry for your loss and move away”.

Guest on

I have to agree that advising women to tell a barista or bartender that they had a miscarriage is kind of weird. I don’t think you need to hide it, but I also don’t think you need to advertise it to strangers. That’s putting your crap on an unsuspecting person and that’s not cool. They’re just trying to do their job, and as someone else noted, their job is not to be your therapist. Tell your friends, family, and close co-workers and/or join a support group. Sometimes it’s okay to keep things, especially incredibly personal things, to those that are actually involved in your life. And I’ve had 2 miscarriages.

bb on

I get the overall point of her message but I do think there is a difference between healthy sharing and over sharing. Seeking help from family, friends, qualified therapists, etc is not wrong and there is no shame in that. But telling the poor checkout kid at Target some of that stuff seems a bit much. It is not that you are ashamed or afraid, there is just a time and place for certain things. You can still be a strong confident person and just know when and where such sharing is appropriate. You may not want to burden a random stranger with that because you don’t know what THEY are going through and you don’t want to add to someone else’s hard times and struggles. I do applaud Ashley’s ability to continue on and be an advocate for others. But what is right for her and her healing may not be right for everyone.

Heidi on

I have had three miscarriages and have never kept it a private thing but I don’t know that I would tell people quite the way Ashley suggests. Maybe, “can I have help with carrying these things to the car” adding, “I’m just recovering from surgery”…..

One of my miscarriages happened in public and I did tell someone that I thought I was having a miscarriage, in order to get that person’s help and make some calls for me which was so appreciated. People were very kind as some kind of realized what was happening as well and one even shared they had been there before.

I think Ashley is very well meaning and hey, maybe some people do need to put it out there after the fact the way she suggests. I just find it maybe TMI in some of the scenarios she suggests. But the point is to get people talking and in general I think that is a good thing. I also think close friends, family, maybe your boss, could learn to say some more sensitive things about the real loss that is felt. Some people say the craziest things because they don’t know what to say! Or they just think it isn’t a big deal and clearly have no idea. THAT is something we need to get better at for sure.

Anonymous on

Some of her suggestions on who to talk to may sound odd, but I think she is just trying to empower women to not feel ashamed to talk about their miscarriages. It shouldn’t be such a taboo topic, it happens in 1 in 4 pregnancies.

PCC on

No one outside of your circle wants to hear about your miscarriage. Everyone has their own problems; maybe that bartender just found out his mother has cancer, or the barista just had his girlfriend walk out on him. Most people have sympathy for someone who has a miscarriage, and anyone with half a brain understands that miscarriages are common.

Sara on

This mentality is enveloping the idea of victims. I’m sorry that she experienced this, but life does need to go on and not handling the situation or asking for ‘help’ from people who have issues of their own isn’t the way to go about things. Narcissism is raging right now and this is the reason the ‘me’ mentality.

Aja on

When it’s difficult to not mention it is when people ask how many kids you have, or, in my case, when strangers would see me out with my two young sons and ask if I was planning on more children, obviously not knowing my third baby passed away in a traumatic 2nd trimester miscarriage. I think, because of that experience, I can understand where she’s coming from. You want to say “I did have a third baby, but I had a miscarriage.” And sometimes I did say that. And that needs to be okay. But I also agree with the above posters who feel that it’s venturing into over sharing to tell the barista you need a venti because you had a miscarriage.

Unfortunately, we’re living in a time and society where people often lack the support systems they desire- because everyone is so busy or because people live far away from family and close friends. I don’t know. I know I had people in my life I could, and still can, discuss my miscarriage with, and I’m not sure how I could have handled it if I didn’t. Maybe I’d be wanting to talk to a bartender about it too.

Pinky on

The thing is about telling everyone is, that unfortunately those people do not care and or do not know how to react which can cause unneeded additional upset to the mama suffering the loss of her child. Each time I had a miscarriage I would tell a few friends initially and was often crushed by those people’s responses. People don’t know how to respond to loss friend or stranger. It is more important to have a few trusted people in your life who you can rely on in these times and then be that proactive person in the future to help the mama who goes through the same thing because you know now.

Kar on

I’ve had a miscarriage and it was very sad event in my and my husband’s life. But I think this is a bit over the top and dramatic. I think people need to stop thinking they are always victims — sometimes bad things happen in life. Mourn, pray, and move on .

Nina on

She had me until she started advising women to tell the barista at Starbucks. I believe the majority of strangers would just feel very uncomfortable with this information, and I don’t see the point at all. My daughter had a miscarriage, and her family and friends rallied around her. She didn’t need the support of strangers.

Esme on

One should deal with trauma and grief however they feel is necessary. if it helps to mention it to strangers, then do it. If it is better for you to talk to close friends, then do that. Grief can do terrible things to you that you don’t expect, until it happens to you.

jennifer on

As I myself am going through one as we speak, this is empowering. Miscarriage is viewed as taboo when it shouldn’t be. She is just giving a voice on what helped her heal. And maybe it was help someone else. Good for her for sharing.

anonymous on

Since when is having a miscarriage a Taboo? People don’t talk about so it doesn’t update the woman but if she wants to talk about..weird as it may be…talk about it. I had an aunt who talked about a miscarriage she had over 50 years ago. It would have been her only child had it lived and she was super Koo koo. She was pregnant for 8 weeks, knew about the pregnancy for 2 weeks before she lost it and talked to anyone she could how she lost a child. In that instance..we don’t want to hear it.

Phonyy on

why would a chiropractor confirm a miscarriage?

Katie on

I have known many people who had miscarriages, and they were almost all very upset. That being sad, rank strangers don’t know you, don’t have a frame of reference for how to deal with your angst, and shouldn’t necessarily be expected to have to deal with your issues, unless you break down in public, and they ask what’s wrong.

My adult child died recently, and there are times when I simply can’t keep from crying…a thought, a picture, a special food, just driving down the street…all can set me off. I have said to people, “I’m sorry, I will be okay. My child passed away a few weeks ago, and sometimes I am just overwhelmed.” They usually say they are sorry to hear that, they may even give me a hug, and I blow my nose on a tissue and gear up. Dealing with a miscarriage is very like that. I have friends I can talk to, who know me and knew how much I loved my child. The same with miscarriage as a rule. You have friends who know you, and know what the pregnancy meant to you and the 20 year old barista usually hasn’t a clue about your situation.

I really like Ashley and enjoy her acting, but I do think this is over the top as to “trying to normalize miscarriage”. Most people understand how traumatic it can be, especially to the person who has tried several times unsuccessfully, and/or desperately wants a/another child. If I saw someone who appeared to be having a miscarriage, I don’t think I would ignore them; I would try to help and to be empathetic.

Me on

As always the lack of compassion for the suffering of another human being expressed on chat boards amazes me. I don’t think Ashley was saying literally to tell your barista or shout it from the hills. Her point was that how do we who have suffered a miscarriage not know how common it is? You feel so isolated, such a failure, broken somehow. Maybe if women spoke of their experiences more we won’t feel so alone in our feelings when it happens and seeing that others have gone on to more babies and that it is so common might make it maybe a little less painful.

My first pregnancy was a misdiagnosed ruptured ectopic and I lost the pregnancy obviously and the tube. I was frantic having lost half my fertility. 2 healthy pregnancies followed. Hopefully hopefully one more.

Rose on

Do women keep silent about miscarriages because they are a shame or because it hurts and they grieving? I’ve had 3 chemical pregnancies and 1 miscarriage and what worked for me was to grieve my babies silently. I didn’t feel ashame. Initially I didn’t want to talk about it because truly there are no words that exist that can describe the hurt in loosing a baby who is so very wanted. I didn’t want people to keep on asking me if I was OK because it was a chore to have to reassure them that I’m OK or that I know it would get better. No darn it, I’m not ok! I needed silent time to mourn the babies and to do my own little rituals in my head so I can gently wish them to rest in peace. These included kissing little imaginary hands and feet that I will never get to touch and visualizing the most beautiful happy and protected place that I could think of and thinking in my mind that this is home for them, where caring and nurturing angels will be taking care of them. For people who doesn’t care this is truly all foolishness in my mind. For me it was what I needed to do to love and properly grieve my babies. Someone else may very well want to shout out their pain to the world and that is fine. And if you come across someone like that, you don’t need to play therapist and find the perfect words to make them feel better. A simple ‘I’m so so sorry for your loss’ and ‘ I’ll keep you in my thoughts’ can be helpful.

megan on

Sorry, but that is selfish to put that on your Starbucks barista. The poor underpaid kid at Starbucks is not their to cheer you up (or to give you a free extra shot, if that’s what she meant). Don’t dump your tragedy on random strangers; go to a support group, reach out to friends & family or pay for a therapist instead

Tinkerbella on

Sorry to hear about her loss. It is very upsetting to miscarry. However irs doubtful that only being 8 weeks along would cause lasting bloating. As someone whose fetus died in the beginning of my second trimester, I didn’t even begin to show.

bre on

I don’t know why everyone is upset at the thought of talking about it to bar tenders or whoever. As a bartender you hear SO MUCH information from costumers all the time that the response will probably be something along the lines of “I’m sorry, this ones on me” and they will go about their shift. Guess what, its our jobs to interact with customers no matter what, no one cared that I was throwing up 10 times a shift with my first pregnancy so hearing about someones miscarriage or recent health issues, or just a really crappy day thats the joys of being working customer service.

Janie on

Everyone who is chiming in on talking to barista, bartender, etc. are missing the point which is to talk about the miscarriage to whomever. It is therapeutic to share your feelings and not keep everything bottled inside.

I suffered a miscarriage, and it was heartbreaking and traumatic. I thought I was going to die. I was about 8 weeks pregnant, and I woke up in the middle of the night to pee. I was bleeding; my mom drove me to the ER. I lost a lot of blood and fainted. I was going into hypovolemic shock. The words that I heard and remember spontaneous abortion which is the medical term for miscarriage. I had to have a D&C and blood transfusion. It was scary and I cried out to the nurse to help me.

As a woman, you can’t help but me like a failure and ask what did I do wrong? I plan to try again, but it is hard not to feel a little scared. Good luck to you Ashley!

texussgal on

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think that this is a topic that should be shared with the world. Ashley is NOT the only woman in the world to have suffered a miscarriage and I find her comments outrageous. There are some things that probably should be kept within one’s family and friends circle and not put out for all the world!!!! IMHO

guest on

I can sympathize with Ashley having a miscarriage myself after trying to get pregnant for 3 years. It was devastating at the time but I struggle to understand people’s perspective on miscarriage. There are people that act like they have never heard of miscarriage until it happens to them. Meanwhile the statistics are quite high so chances are you know someone who had one. In Ashley’s case she had a prior pregnancy that resulted in birth so chances are she will get pregnant and carry to term next time. I wish her the best and I’m sure we will be reading in a few months that she is pregnant.

Peachy on

I’ve had 5 miscarriages, and let me tell you that family & friends are not often compassionate. Strangers even less so. On the internet you will get an attitude of youre bitter, and you should adopt. My sister-in-law said to my husband in relation to me “get over it”. Family will say things like “well some people have NO kids” (I have one from former marriage) or my favorite “it was meant to be”. They forget that my husband has no kids, and my child will have no siblings. And even having one child already, 5 miscarriages takes its toll. Over a decade later, it still smarts. Those relationships have been damaged too.

exit82 on

never pass up a good opportunity to keep your mouth shut